Thursday, April 12th 2012

7 mm Won't Cut It, Intel Wants 5 mm-Thick Drives for Ultrabooks

Custodian of the Ultrabook specification, Intel pushed the storage industry to churn out slimmer devices to go with increasingly slimmer Ultrabooks sold by the various partner ODMs in the ecosystem. Even as HDD and SSD makers have only just come up with 7 mm-thick storage devices, Intel has a fresh list of changes it wishes to see with storage devices in the very near future, to be able to make it to the constantly-evolving Ultrabook specification. Intel wants near-future storage devices (SSDs and HDDs) to be no thicker than 5 mm.

Further, it wants to see the standard SATA host interface changed from "around" (out of) form, to "along" (inside) form host interface, which further slims down the drive compartment. These proposals were floated at IDF, Beijing. While coming up with slimmer SSDs was never really a tough task for SSD makers, as SSDs are essentially just millimeter-thick printed circuit boards with millimeter-thick components (controller logic, NAND flash memory, and ancillaries), it posed a huge technical challange to mechanical HDD designers, who have had to slim down key components that work to maintain inertial motion of spinning platters. This new proposal for 5 mm-thick HDDs could pose a newer, tougher desgin challenge.

Source: VR-Zone
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43 Comments on 7 mm Won't Cut It, Intel Wants 5 mm-Thick Drives for Ultrabooks

#1
btarunr
Editor & Senior Moderator
I smell conflict of interest. Intel wants drives unreasonably slimmer (5 mm isn't much slimmer than 7 mm), so it becomes impossible for HDD vendors (they can't go slimmer without impacting performance), and SSD remains the only viable storage device (Intel is a major NAND flash chip vendor for SSDs).
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#2
Jstn7477
Intel's netbook/ultrabook platforms have always been a conflict of interest. Everyone remembers the 10" screen and 1GB maximum RAM limits enforced on Intel netbooks, and then Brazos came along sans restrictions and wiped the floor with them.
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#3
RejZoR
Actually the limit was at 1,5GB RAM. Where 512MB was already integrated on-board. I've had one of those suckers...
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#4
Delta6326
Lol they are complaining about 2 whole mm! Who cares...
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#5
Vulpesveritas
by: Delta6326
Lol they are complaining about 2 whole mm! Who cares...
Umm... the HDD manufacturers which have to figure out how to shrink their mechanical data storage device height by 29%?
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#6
newtekie1
Semi-Retired Folder
by: Jstn7477
Intel's netbook/ultrabook platforms have always been a conflict of interest. Everyone remembers the 10" screen and 1GB maximum RAM limits enforced on Intel netbooks, and then Brazos came along sans restrictions and wiped the floor with them.
The screen limit was just to call it a netbook(and frankly, anything larger than 10" shouldn't be called a netbook), the RAM and HDD limit(first 80GB then 160GB) was to be able to put an essentially free edition of Windows Home on it.
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#7
phanbuey
Intel is squeezing the platters out of ultrabooks
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#8
ice_v
it's just not enough!

I want them to be also transparent! :mad:
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#9
Delta6326
by: Vulpesveritas
Umm... the HDD manufacturers which have to figure out how to shrink their mechanical data storage device height by 29%?
I should have worded that differently, I was talking about Intel complaining. As i think it would be hard to make HDD's smaller.
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#10
AthlonX2
HyperVtXâ„¢
by: btarunr
I smell conflict of interest. Intel wants drives unreasonably slimmer (5 mm isn't much slimmer than 7 mm), so it becomes impossible for HDD vendors (they can't go slimmer without impacting performance), and SSD remains the only viable storage device (Intel is a major NAND flash chip vendor for SSDs).
This isnt exactly true, Intel sold their stake in IMFT to micron.
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#13
Zubasa
by: eidairaman1
intel sounds more like apple everyday
They were never that different in the first place ;)
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#15
1c3d0g
Doesn't matter, HDD's for notebooks are irrelevant anyways. SSD's rule in this category. If we were talking desktops, I'd be concerned, as it'll be a while before a 2 TB SSD is affordable enough for most consumers.
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#17
imitation
by: Delta6326
I should have worded that differently, I was talking about Intel complaining. As i think it would be hard to make HDD's smaller.
"Image courtesy of Western Digital". I'd think they have figured it out already.

by: newtekie1
The screen limit was just to call it a netbook(and frankly, anything larger than 10" shouldn't be called a netbook), the RAM and HDD limit(first 80GB then 160GB) was to be able to put an essentially free edition of Windows Home on it.
So you'd call a 11" Brazos device a "laptop"? C'mon.

by: cmberry20
I wonder if Intel have realised yet that 5mm mechanical hard drives have been around for over 4 years!!!

http://storage.toshiba.eu/export/sites/toshiba-sdd/media/products/datasheets/mk4009gal_datasheet.pdf
They've been around since 1999, probably earlier: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Microdrive
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#18
eddman
by: cmberry20
I wonder if Intel have realised yet that 5mm mechanical hard drives have been around for over 4 years!!!

http://storage.toshiba.eu/export/sites/toshiba-sdd/media/products/datasheets/mk4009gal_datasheet.pdf
Guess you haven't realized that the hdd you linked to is a 1.8 inch. Currently there are no 2.5 HDDs slimmer than 7 mm.

by: imitation
They've been around since 1999, probably earlier: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Microdrive
Yeah, and it's just 1 inch. How much storage is possible to get out of that.
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#19
newtekie1
Semi-Retired Folder
by: imitation
So you'd call a 11" Brazos device a "laptop"? C'mon.
Yes, I would.

by: eddman
Guess you haven't realized that the hdd you linked to is a 1.8 inch. Currently there are no 2.5 HDDs slimmer than 7 mm.



Yeah, and it's just 1 inch. How much storage is possible to get out of that.
And do you think it will be harder to get 5mm in the 2.5" form factor? It won't. The fact is we already have 5mm drives in even smaller form factors, so making a 5mm drive in the larger 2.5" form factor should be easy. However, performance will likely suffer.

And with current platter densities, I'd guess 160GB would be easy in a 1" Microdrive today.
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#20
Completely Bonkers
by: btarunr
I smell conflict of interest. Intel wants drives unreasonably slimmer (5 mm isn't much slimmer than 7 mm), so it becomes impossible for HDD vendors (they can't go slimmer without impacting performance), and SSD remains the only viable storage device (Intel is a major NAND flash chip vendor for SSDs).
Agreed. And rotating the connector to make it incompatible with 100% of existing drives, or indeed, 100% of future competition, is an Intel Stink Bomb to OEMs and upgraders.

I generally like companies encouraging industry wide progress. But this "new incompatible" standard just aint it. :mad:
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#21
Fourstaff
by: Completely Bonkers

I generally like companies encouraging industry wide progress. But this "new incompatible" standard just aint it. :mad:
Not sure what you mean there, after all Ultrabooks are meant to be flagship products, and mechanical drives does not provide flagship performance. Laptops will still be around for those who can't or don't want to afford the thinness provided by Ultrabooks, or need extra space. The threat by tablets must be pushing Intel quite hard to maintain the status quo.
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#22
cheesy999
by: 1c3d0g
Doesn't matter, HDD's for notebooks are irrelevant anyways. SSD's rule in this category. If we were talking desktops, I'd be concerned, as it'll be a while before a 2 TB SSD is affordable enough for most consumers.
Maybe for some, but a lot of people now use laptops as their main or even only machine, and a lot of people also store their music/video collection on their laptops, meaning SSD's are not an option for a lot of people at the moment. Since most laptops only support one drive most people can't afford to have an SSD in their laptop.
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#23
Fourstaff
by: cheesy999
Maybe for some, but a lot of people now use laptops as their main or even only machine, and a lot of people also store their music/video collection on their laptops, meaning SSD's are not an option for a lot of people at the moment. Since most laptops only support one drive most people can't afford to have an SSD in their laptop.
Laptop is my only machine right now, and I have not even touched 60GB. All of my stuff are in external Harddisks. You can easily get a 2.5" 1TB drive for some money to keep your music collection etc. A careless drop will wipe everything out in your laptop, so most people I know will backup everything they have to a harddrive.
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#24
cheesy999
by: Fourstaff
Laptop is my only machine right now, and I have not even touched 60GB. All of my stuff are in external Harddisks. You can easily get a 2.5" 1TB drive for some money to keep your music collection etc. A careless drop will wipe everything out in your laptop, so most people I know will backup everything they have to a harddrive.
I'm sure you can at least see why the average laptop user might not want to carry a USB hard drive around everywhere, what the point of making the ultrabook smaller if you have to carry around more items just to allow you to store files?
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#25
Fourstaff
by: cheesy999
I'm sure you can at least see why the average laptop user might not want to carry a USB hard drive around everywhere, what the point of making the ultrabook smaller if you have to carry around more items just to allow you to store files?
You have got a point there, but that is how it goes I am afraid. You will not be able to bring your entire music collection with you everywhere, but you will still be able to bring a substantial chunk with you, while keeping your external at home etc. SSD capacity will only increase in the future anyway, and I can see 256GB being the standard in a year or two.
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